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P R E F A C E

If I had to remember what I thought architecture was before I entered it five years ago, I don’t think I would be able to. I can’t even explain today what it is, exactly, but perhaps I can say that to me, it is the search and shaping of meaning. The distinction between architecture, and a building, I have come to realize, is this intangible set of ideas, principles and directions that could be considered to give meaning to a “building” and transform it into “architecture” instead. This meaning, and its validity and the validity of it having to exist, is what has shaped my main fears and questions concerning what I have been doing for the past four years. Whenever I designed, I could never explain exactly what the meaning of what I was designing was, or why it was the way I had designed it. What has been driving my work for the past four years has been intuition, and feeling, which is something I did not consider a valid measure of meaning, or worth, but was the same criteria that shaped my appreciation of the built environment, and various works of art or architecture. And so part of what I was attempting to find this semester was the answer to these questions, and to understand what I liked, and why I liked it, in other words, to find validity through meaning. At the beginning, I tried to escape these nagging questions, and I claimed that architecture today was about lifestyle; I turned away from the city and the bulk of what is built so I would not have to concern myself with explaining or finding meaning. I never thought my final year project would involve the past, or something someone else had designed, I had never given much credit to what I thought was uninventive work, and I had tried to stay away from “the past” as much as I’d could, in the obsessive strive to be “contemporary”, and “innovative”. As it turns out, being contemporary in Beirut means precisely having to deal with the past, because it is everywhere. It also turns out it is much more difficult to design within the existing, than in a vacuum, especially if one is in search of meaning. Ultimately, I was searching for myself, and I had to understand what was already there, so I could place myself within it.


A B S T R A C T

This thesis starts from a personal interest in DECAY, derelict structures and buildings scattered around my city, BEIRUT, and the quest to understand my obsession with breaking into the BOUNDARIES erected around them and discovering them. It questions the NATURE of these spaces, and how through ARCHITECTURE, we can re-appropriate them to include them within the FABRIC and LIFE of the CITY, without taking away from the very qualities that make them so attractive to begin with, but utilizing them as a PROCESS to learn from in order to continue the USE of these spaces. At the basis of this research is the conviction that the LIFE of a building is not confined to the TIME SPAN within which the building conserves the SHAPE and FUNCTION it was initially designed for, but should extend its use through its DERELICTION to its assumed DEATH, continuing through new functions and interventions to be experienced as ARCHITECTURE until its final DISAPPEARANCE. For the purpose of specificity, I direct my questions towards a single building, which embodies simultaneously the REASON, the CAUSE, the physical manifestation and the opportunity of APPROPRIATION of DECAY and its prolificacy in BEIRUT, namely, the BARAKAT BUILDING (also known as the YELLOW BUILDING). I start by placing the question within the broader issue of DERELICT STRUCTURES, looking at the cause of their proliferation in the city, namely the WAR, and the implication of their existence on the FUTURE of the CITY, and designing for it. The analysis of the building itself in light of this study leads to an understanding of its QUALITIES in its PRESENT decaying state and a study of the MEANINGS of possible SCENARIOS for continued use of the BUILDING. The results of this investigation are the development and understanding of two categories of built structures, the RUIN and the MONUMENT, and the conclusion that neither is a desired FUTURE for the YELLOW BUILDING. What I propose instead, through the INJECTION of a PROGRAM inspired by the PRESENT state of the building and its CONTEXT, namely, a school of CIRCUS and PERFORMING ARTS, is an architecture that is TEMPORARY, always IN-PROCESS, never COMPLETE. The building becomes a DYNAMIC space harvesting ENERGY into CREATION, rather than DESTRUCTION. A REHEARSAL space, a PEFORMANCE space and a PRODUCTION space. Where once DEATH played itself, now LIFE takes the stage.

D E C A Y C I T Y ACHITECTURE N A T U R E T I M E S P A N F U N C T I O N D E A T H APPROPRIATION BARAKAT BUILDING P R E S E N T W A R S C E N A R I O S F U T U R E R U I N M O N U M E N T C O N T E X T C I R C U S I N - P R O C E S S T E M P O R A R Y C O M P L E T E E N E R G Y PRODUC T ION PEFORM ANCE L I F E


C O N T E N T S

CHAPTER 1: I’M MORTAL ... AND SO ARE MY CREATIONS THE WAR, DESIGNER OF THIS FUTURE BUILDINGS ARE THE TOMBS OF ARCHITECTURE THE CITY AND ITS FUTURE CHAPTER 2: THE PROTAGONIST CHAPTER 3: THE BACKGROUND STORY CHAPTER 4: DRAFT SCENARIOS

THE RUIN THE MONUMENT

CHAPTER 5: THE SETTING CHAPTER 6: THE PLOT CHAPTER 7: THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE SCRIPT

CHAPTER 8: THE FINAL DRAFT

SETTING CHARACTERS ACTION


Profile for Yasmina El Chami

Viva La Vida or Death and all his friends: A story about the future of an old building  

This book was researched, designed and published as part of the Final year thesis project requirement for the Bachelor of Architecture degre...

Viva La Vida or Death and all his friends: A story about the future of an old building  

This book was researched, designed and published as part of the Final year thesis project requirement for the Bachelor of Architecture degre...

Profile for yasminaki
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